Tomatoes have been my favorite food every since I was a little girl. I used to grab big beefsteak tomatoes and eat them whole, just like you would an apple. I’m almost 30 now and that hasn’t changed a bit. At my house, we keep a bowl of cherry tomatoes on the counter and I’ll pick them up and eat them just like I would a bowl of candy or nuts.
Since I love to eat them so much, I also love to grow them! There is nothing like eating a ripe tomato straight off the vine! Tomatoes in Texas can be very tricky though. Here are some of my best tips for tomatoes. These are applicable whether you’ve never grown them before or you are an experience tomato-planter! If you’re a novice vegetable grower, begin by reading our post on Starting your Spring Garden.
Plant in March, usually around St. Patrick’s Day, but not after April 1st! Tomatoes need to have their roots well established before the Texas heat hits, otherwise you won’t get much fruit.
Plant in full sun (6-8 hours a day), where you have good drainage, good air circulation and can easily water the plant(s).
Add a fertilizer (we like Espoma Tomato-Tone) and liquid seaweed at planting time. After you dig a hole for your tomato, place both of these at the bottom of the hole, cover with a layer of dirt and then plant your tomato.
When planting a transplant tomato, you only want to plant a single stalk and you want to plant it as deep as possible. If you have a plant with more than one stalk growing, cut off the smaller stalks. Trim off any lower leaves from the plant as well, and plant the tomato plant as deep in the soil as possible. Ideally you want to bury a couple of inches of the stem at least.
Tomatoes need to be kept moist, so water frequently. Water in the morning to reduce the change of fungal disease and either aim for the roots or use drip irrigation to keep water off the leaves.
Since tomatoes need a lot of moisture, it is important to put mulch on around your tomato plants after you plant them and sufficiently water them. This will help retain moisture not just right now, but throughout the summer as the soil struggles to stay moist in the Texas heat! You can use a cedar mulch or pine straw mulch. Pine straw will make your soil acidic, but tomatoes are an acidic fruit, so they actually prefer acidic soil. If you are planting something that doesn’t like acidic soil, steer clear of using pine straw